Heritage > Rulers

Mary Queen of Scots, 1542-1567

Just one week old when she came to the throne of Scotland, it was obvious a Regent would have to be appointed to rule in her name. The next in line to the throne, the Earl of Arran was designated this position.

In keeping with the political marriages that were common place in this era it was Arran who agreed to the betrothal of a seven month old Mary to Henry VIII's son, Edward. The marriage was not to take place until Mary had reached the ripe old age of 11. This betrothal was not much more than a peace treaty between the two nations.

Arran was Protestant in his religion and it was this religious leaning which led to the Catholics snatching away the infant Mary, crowning her Queen of Scotland and denouncing the betrothal. This act infuriated Henry and England savagely attacked Scotland.

The Scots became increasingly split between the pro-English, Protestant, camp and the pro-French, Catholic, faction.

Upon the coronation of Edward as King Edward VI the English occupied Scotland. Mary fled to France where she married the Dauphin 11 years later. So it was that the Queen of Scots married into the French monarchy rather than the English. Mary's mother, Marie of Guise Lorraine replaced Arran as Regent and with French support drove the English out of Scotland. Scotland now stood as a French colony.

Mary returned to an increasingly Protestant Scotland at the age of 18. She led a fascinating life. She was married to her cousin, Lord Darnley. Upon discovering his penchant for affairs she had him murdered. She then married his murderer, the Earl of Bothwell. This led to her downfall as the Scottish people would not accept Bothwell as King. She was therefore forced to abdicate in favour of her only son, James. This was a turning point in the fortunes of Britain as James was to be the first ruler of both England and Scotland.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was executed on the orders of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire.

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